Kohima: A consultative meeting with “tribal hohos and organizations” organised by Nagaland government was held at Rhododendron Hall at Chumoukedima in Dimapur today.
Nagaland Chief Secretary, Nagaland, J. Alam, welcomed all the members and briefed them that after almost three decades, AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) was lifted from certain areas of Nagaland. He mentioned that AFSPA has been removed completely in three districts and partially removed in four districts of Nagaland and expressed hope that further progress will be seen in the days to come.
In the meeting, Chief Minister, Neiphiu Rio said all stakeholders had appealed for the “abolishment of the draconian law- AFSPA”, and the Government of India has finally heard the appeals of the people.
Rio then said the State Government had formed a 22 member Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the Oting incident. He congratulated the members of the SIT for their prompt action in conducting investigations and submitting their preliminary reports. “Once the report is submitted and a case is filed, the contents of the report will be made known to the public. The Centre also formed its SIT and they have also submitted their report”, the Chief Minister added.
Rio also said that “total abolition” of AFSPA may take time but the “partial AFSPA abolishment” is a test. During this crucial period, he stated that if law and order cannot be controlled, AFSPA may be reinstated. He appealed for co-operation with the government to ensure that no untoward incidents occur. He further appealed to all the stakeholders to seriously ponder how to maintain law and order in the State. “As the Naga solution is for all the Nagas”, he appealed that the Nagas should harbor a sense of unity and oneness and not be selfish in their demands. He thanked the civil society organisations, tribal leaders and student bodies for cooperation and to support the Government.
Chairman United Democratic Alliance (UDA) and former Chief Minister, T. R Zeliang stated that partial lifting of AFSPA is an experimental phase with the end goal of completely removing AFSPA from the state. He appealed for joint responsibility and co-operation as the police would be handicapped without the peoples’ support.
Nagaland Home Commissioner, Abhijit Sinha said earlier notification on AFSPA issued in December 2021 has been withdrawn and fresh notification has been issued on the same. Out of 72 police stations, AFSPA has been withdrawn in 15 police stations. He said that this can be seen as the first step toward the total abolition of AFSPA in the state. The officer also stated that tribal leaders, leaders of “apex bodies, hohos”, civil society organisations, and student bodies will have to play an important role and will have to take responsibility for keeping the peace as AFSPA may be reinstated if law and order problems arise. “This is a combined responsibility of all stakeholders involved”, he added.
Nagaland DGP, John Longklumer, IPS, maintained that once AFSPA is removed, the responsibility of law and order and maintaining peace will fall on the Nagaland police. He informed that IRB personnel have been deployed at strategic locations to ensure the maintenance of law and order.
Meanwhile, Eastern Naga Students Federation (ENSF) appealed for total justice to be delivered to all victims of the Oting incident and that the Government of Nagaland should remind the Government of India in this regard. ENSF said it is still in non-cooperation with armed forces and will continue to do so until justice is delivered. Other tribal bodies also shared their opinions during the meeting.